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Weekend preview: Moulson debuts, Canucks crashing and Rangers-Wings on NBC

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A quick look ahead at some of the narratives at play this weekend…

Moulson debuts

Matt Moulson will play his first game for Minnesota on Saturday when the Wild take on the Stars in Dallas.

The former Sabres sniper — acquired at Wednesday’s trade deadline — is a three-time 30-goal scorer that should provide a huge boost for the goal-starved Wild. Minnesota only has 153 goals this year (24th in the NHL) with just two players, Jason Pominville and Zach Parise, in the 20-plus category. Moulson’s 17 instantly puts him third on the team.

Based on practices, it looks as though Moulson will debut on Minnesota’s second line alongside Charlie Coyle and captain Mikko Koivu. Wild head coach Mike Yeo was excited about the versatility Moulson brought to the lineup, noting he added depth among the top two lines.

“I liked the look of them before we went out on the ice and I liked the look of them after we came off the ice, too,” Yeo told the Star-Tribune. “I thought there was real good energy in our practice today. Obviously guys are excited.

“We felt really good about our team and where we were at going into this trade deadline and we feel that we’re a strong team now, we’re a deeper team. So we’re excited to put it to work now.”

Minnesota’s other new additions — Cody McCormick and Ilya Bryzgalov — are also likely to be in the mix on Saturday. McCormick has a shot to draw in on the Wild’s fourth line, while Bryzgalov will serve as Darcy Kuemper’s backup.

Canucks crashing

Vancouver is 1-8-1 in its last 10 and, on Thursday, was smashed 6-1 by Dallas — a team the Canucks are chasing for the final wild card playoff spot in the Western Conference. To the observer, it looked as though Vancouver players had all but quit on beleaguered head coach John Tortorella; the flop came shortly after a listless 1-0 loss in Phoenix and the contentious Roberto Luongo trade.

Vancouver will look to try and get back on track Saturday when it takes on Calgary at Rogers Arena. This, of course, will be the first time the two taems met since Tortorella tried to attack Flames head coach Bob Hartley on Jan. 18, an incident that netted Torts a lengthy suspension.

NHL on NBC

The Rangers and Red Wings will meet for the third and final time this season on Sunday (12:30 p.m. ET, NBC). If the first two games were any indication, Sunday’s affair should be tight — the Rangers won the first meeting in OT (3-2) and the second was an old-fashioned goalie duel as the Blueshirts beat Detroit 1-0 on the strength of Henrik Lundqvist’s 38-save shutout.

Crouse brings the ‘total package’ of size, skill and speed to Coyotes

FT. LAUDERDALE, FL - JUNE 25: Lawson Crouse attends the Top Prospects Media Opportunity at the Westin Ft. Lauderdale Beach Resort on June 25, 2015 in Sunrise, Florida.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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Lawson Crouse has joined a talented group of young forwards in Arizona, after the Coyotes acquired the 2015 first-round pick from the Florida Panthers on Thursday.

The Coyotes had to take on the contract of injured forward Dave Bolland, but in their minds, it was worth it to get a player like Crouse, who certainly brings size up front at six-foot-four-inches tall and 212 pounds. He had 23 goals and 62 points in 49 games this season with Kingston in the OHL.

“He’s a unique guy because usually when you add a guy with the type of size he has you usually give up a little bit in skating or you give up a little bit in skill,” said general manager John Chayka, as per the Coyotes website.

“He’s a guy that you add the size and he actually enhances that for your entire group. In our opinion, it was a guy that’s rare to find, difficult to obtain. Certainly, once they become established in the league, those players are locked up well into their 30s and then you end up trying to maybe overpay for a player that has these attributes that’s not in the prime of his career.”

Crouse, who turned 19 years old in June, now joins the likes of Max Domi, Dylan Strome and Anthony Duclair as part of Arizona’s group of up-and-coming young forwards. He has familiarity with all three from playing in the OHL or for Team Canada at the world juniors.

“He can fly. He’s fast and he hits and he scores goals. You kinda get the total package,” Strome told Sportsnet.

The Las Vegas Desert Knights? Maybe . . .

LAS VEGAS, NV - JUNE 22:  New Las Vegas NHL franchise owner Bill Foley addresses the media during the Board Of Governors Press Conference prior to the 2016 NHL Awards at Encore Las Vegas on June 22, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada. The NHL's board of governors approved expanding to Las Vegas, making the franchise the 31st team in the league. The team will start play during the 2017-18 season and play at the newly built T-Mobile Arena.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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There’s been another possible development in the search for a team name for the Las Vegas NHL franchise.

The Las Vegas ‘Desert Knights’ could perhaps be a thing.

Maybe.

From the Las Vegas Review-Journal:

Last week domain names were registered that might be an indicator that the NHL team scheduled to begin play in 2017 could be called the Las Vegas Desert Knights.

Last week the domains lasvegasdesertknights.com, vegasdesertknights.com and desertknightshockey.com were privately registered to Moniker Privacy Services, which is the same company that procured the domain name to NHL.com.

DetroitHockey.net first reported the new domain name Thursday morning.

Foley said via text message he had no comment regarding the process when reached by the Review-Journal.

As the Las Vegas franchise continues to hire key members for its hockey operations department, there is growing intrigue when it comes to the search for a new name.

What will this new franchise be called?

The wait continues, and there has been a lot of space dedicated to speculating and discussing the possibilities.

It’s been reported that the expansion franchise could use one of at least three ‘Hawks’-orientated names. Owner Bill Foley also said this summer that Las Vegas can’t use a ‘Knights’ nickname is Canada, because London’s OHL franchise was also named the Knights.

Stay tuned . . .

Las Vegas hires former Panthers director of player personnel Scott Luce

ST PAUL, MN - JUNE 24:  Director of scouting Scott Luce of the Florida Panthers smiles before day one of the 2011 NHL Entry Draft at Xcel Energy Center on June 24, 2011 in St Paul, Minnesota.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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Scott Luce has gone from the Florida Panthers to the Las Vegas expansion franchise.

The new NHL organization — still searching for a team name — announced Thursday that it has hired Luce as its new director of amateur scouting.

Luce spent the last 14 years in Florida, as a scout and as director of player personnel.

Luce was let go earlier in the offseason, as the Panthers underwent massive change within their front office, with the promotion of Dale Tallon to president of hockey operations and Tom Rowe to GM, and more attention to analytics.

Report: Avalanche bring Rene Bourque in for a PTO

NEWARK, NJ - OCTOBER 27: Rene Bourque #18 of the Columbus Blue Jackets skates against the New Jersey Devils at the Prudential Center on October 27, 2015 in Newark, New Jersey.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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After announcing the hiring of Jared Bednar as their next head coach, the Colorado Avalanche have brought in forward Rene Bourque on a professional tryout, according to James Mirtle of the Globe and Mail.

Bourque became an unrestricted free agent at the beginning of July, after his six-year contract worth a total value of $20 million expired. The annual cap hit on his previous deal was $3.333 million.

He spent last season with the Columbus Blue Jackets, scoring three goals and eight points in 49 games. He was placed on waivers at the end of February.

During the 2014-15 campaign, he spent time with the Montreal Canadiens, Anaheim Ducks and the Blue Jackets, before a back injury sidelined him for the remainder of that season.